SHA TIN // Vision D'Etat confirmed his status as one of the world's best mile-and-a-quarter runners by taking victory in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. The French horse, which had to pass an inspection by the vets in the morning having been found lame on Friday, travelled well throughout and had the race sewn up halfway up the straight, beating Collection, the much-fancied local favourite, in the process. Presvis was a further two-and-half-lengths back in third.The UAE's Eagle Mountain, short of race fitness, finished a creditable fifth.
Next on the agenda for Vision D'Etat is Dubai World Cup night, provided trainer Eric Libaud is satisfied that the track conditions at the new Meydan racecourse will suit his horse. "You could see early in the race that he was in top form and to win the last major international race of the year is a real honour," Libaud said. "I would like to go to Dubai World Cup night next, but while I knew Nad al Sheba, I don't know what the new track will be like so I intend to visit soon to see for myself. Vision D'Etat may be aimed at the World Cup itself or one of the turf races."
Eagle Mountain emerged from the race with some credit after putting in a performance that hinted at much more to come and had his trainer, Mike De Kock, eagerly anticipating the Dubai International Racing Carnival. "He was travelling around just like he can until a certain point in the straight when he'd had enough," he said. "We are happy with him because we had just run out of time to get him fit. He was about 80-85 per cent out there.
"He's over his injury problems now though, it's just a case of getting him fit and this will stand him in good stead for Dubai. "Previously before the Carnival we've had to get him fit there and he's broken down. This time he will turn up ready and he's never had that before." Jockey Kevin Shea added: "I was very pleased with him up to a certain point. He's retained all his old ability, it was just the fitness. Follow him next time out."
And South African handler De Kock was another to set his sights on next year's Dubai World Cup race worth US$10million (Dh36.7m). "Eagle Mountain likes working over the artificial surface and he can really motor over it, so the plan is to run him twice in the Carnival, once over the artificial and once over the turf and make a decision from there," he said. "He's the best horse we have and the huge prize money is something you can't ignore."
Presvis's trainer, Luca Cumani, was pleased with his horse's run ahead of being shipped to Dubai tomorrow. The gelding is another who will be tried over both surfaces at Meydan before a decision will be made on which race he will compete in. With Hong Kong ending the international racing year and the Dubai World Cup opening it, the action at Sha Tin showed that the quality of horses with intentions to head to Dubai next year will be the highest ever.
One horse unlikely to make the trip though is Good Ba Ba which created history when becoming the first horse to win three times at this meeting after taking a hat-trick of Hong Kong Mile victories in thrilling style. After breaking late and being scrubbed along by jockey Olivier Doleuze when five lengths off the pace at the top of the straight, he eventually produced a blistering burst of acceleration to fly past his opponents and into the history books.
A jubilant Doleuze said: "It took him a little longer than normal to really get going from the top of the straight. "I believed he could get there though. What a horse." Godolphin's Alexandros came seventh in the race after fading when Frankie Dettori kicked for home in the straight while ideally placed to make a challenge. Dettori said: "He's run OK. A mile around here at Sha Tin is too quick for him but he was outclassed."